Vote for Your Favorite Female Influencer in Orange County, Presented By Wells Fargo
Written By: Alana Aronson
From filmmakers to philanthropists, budding designers to business owners, these Orange County women are making moves and changing the game in their industries. With so many impressive and inspiring women in our community, it is impossible to pick just one favorite.
Annette Richardson: Marketing Director, OMG Aesthetics
After 21 years in the beauty and medical aesthetics industry, Annette Richardson found her passion after building from the ground up over a dozen successful medical spas and schools. She decided to return back into the practice and create a special place where she would have the opportunity to implement all of her knowledge she had gathered from her 360 degree education and evaluation of what worked in the medical aesthetic and medical industry.
“Treating every patient like they are your only patient while giving the best treatment results possible” was the driving force behind the business model. Annette is involved in donating to multiple causes including Children’s Hospital of California by performing in the C.H.O.C. Follies this year and is excited to be returning next year. Helping women and children achieve their goals, professionally and personally, is a very important driving force in her life.
Cristen Stapp, Kitchen Table PR + Marketing
Cristen specializes in media relations, online marketing, advertising and event management at Kitchen Table PR, a boutique PR and marketing firm based in Newport Beach. On a daily basis, she ensures the execution of KTM’s innovative marketing plans, provides exceptional customer service to each of their clients, and secures top placements for their clients across OC and beyond. Cristen has lead successful PR campaigns for many clients including SOCO & The OC Mix, Room & Board, Lavender Salon & Boutique, Lido Marina Village, Pacific City, and more. She lives in Costa Mesa with her husband Aaron, daughter Marlowe, and two dogs – Gary and Goldie.
Alli Talley: Co-Founder and Brand Director, 31 Bits
Alli and four college friends started 31 Bits, a jewelry company using fashion to empower women to rise above poverty. They employ 80 women in Northern Uganda, giving them a sustainable monthly income as well as holistic education including financial, health, and business trainings. Alli graduated from Vanguard University with a degree in Interpersonal Communications, and is now the company’s Director of PR & Marketing. When she’s not at the office, Alli’s probably traveling the world with her husband, Bobby. You can follow their adventures at travelingnewlyweds.com or on Instagram, @traveling_newlyweds!
Elyse Avila Smith: Owner and Operator, Avila’s El Ranchito, Seal Beach
Elyse Avila Smith is carrying on a family tradition as the owner and operator of Avila’s El Ranchito in Seal Beach, which opened in 2015. As the granddaughter of Margarita and Salvador Avila, who opened the first iconic Avila’s El Ranchito location in Huntington Park in 1966, Elyse grew up learning recipes in her grandmother’s kitchen and helping out and learning the business at her family’s restaurants. Now, Elyse is proud to bring her grandmother’s authentic Mexican recipes to new generations of loyal guests who have a deep connection to not only the food, but also the warm hospitality and the family-friendly atmosphere that her restaurant is known for. With just one year of ownership but a lifetime of experience, Elyse has already turned one of the newest Avila’s El Ranchito locations into a neighborhood favorite.
Whitney St. Clair: Founder, Blown Away Beauty Bar
Whitney is the founder and represents the Blown Away Beauty Bar brand. Her vision was to create a boutique blowout salon experience that elevates each and every client’s natural and inner beauty with stylish, celebrity like, catwalk-quality hairstyles and makeup. “Every woman deserves to be treated like a celebrity.” says Whitney. Whitney has over 10 years of experience in sales, fashion and retail including leading the Fashion Merchandising team and managing the Savvy fashion department at Nordstrom’s in San Diego where she learned that world-class customer experience is rewarded in customer retention. Whitney worked on numerous fashion shows with Nordstrom as the Fashion Event Coordinator, as well as trunk shows and other promotional events. She had been to a blow dry salon before and love the concept but wanted to make an experience there even better! She put her dream and plans into motion and successfully launched Blown Away Beauty Bar in July of 2014.
Colette Coffman: Founder, Colette’s Catering & Events
Colette Coffman is a proud Fullerton native who has always had the drive to own her own business. She grew up in a large family and taught herself how to cook at a very young age. In 1992, this passion grew into a one-woman catering operation; focused on cakes and small corporate catering jobs. Her family business began to grow with the addition of her in-law and business partner Duane Greenleaf. Word then spread that Colette’s Catering & Events expanded to meet customer demand by providing delicious, handcrafted menus with impeccable service. With a successful full-service catering company and nearly 25 years later, Colette is still hands on with Colette’s Catering & Events. She believes that food is at the center of every great party and has established a stellar reputation for taking care of clientele with one-on-one personal planning and flawless execution.
Rachel Beck and Lori Waring, Founders, Creative Carafes
Co-Founders Rachel Beck and Lori Waring met over 10 years ago in the workforce and have been best friends ever since. With Rachel’s broad background in business, marketing and advertising and Lori’s extensive background in computer science and finance management and both of their passion for art and fun they decided to team up and created Creative Carafes, an upscale paint and sip company in the Orange County area. They are passionate about supporting the arts and their communities. They champion small businesses by filling up locally owned establishments with patrons looking for a fun, unique night out. They also host fundraising events to raise money for worthy causes donating anywhere from 50-60% of proceeds to the chosen charity or organization. They promise you will leave at the end of the night with a smile on your face and a piece of art you will go home proud of, hence their tagline, “Create Art. Create Memories.”
Twila True: Founder, Polished Perfect by Twila True
Twila True is a dedicated philanthropist and successful entrepreneur with a proven track record of operating complex businesses and systems. Together with her husband, Twila established market leadership in designing, manufacturing and selling office and home seating to big-box retailers in the U.S., Canada and Mexico under the licensed brand names of Lazyboy, Broyhill, Thomasville, Lane and Serta. In 2012, Twila established True Investments LLC, a real estate private equity firm that buys, renovates, manages and leases single family residential properties in select core markets across the nation. In 2014, Twila identified the market need for safe and clean luxury nail studios, which would appeal to today’s health and beauty conscious consumers. To meet this need, she launched Polished Perfect by Twila True, which offers an escape into an atmosphere of style and indulgence by providing an unparalleled nail studio experience. Twila’s charitable initiatives include True Children’s Home, which Twila and her husband Alan founded in February 2006 in Dongguan, China to provide life sustaining care, corrective surgery, post-surgical care, placement with foster families, and adoption advocacy.
Hillari Hudson: Manager, Red O Restaurant Newport Beach
Hillari Hudson was born and raised in orange county. While studying to be an elementary school teacher, she got a job as a host at a restaurant called Mastro’s Ocean club in Newport Beach. At 20 years old she fell in love with the restaurant industry; guest services and hospitality became her passion. Hillari quickly worked her way up to the maître d’ position and at the young age of 25, was offered a management position at one of the most popular fine dining establishments in Orange County. Hillari’s mentor and Vice President of Mastro’s at the time, Jason Miranda, was always pushing her to learn more, never stop bettering herself and most importantly go above and beyond for their guests. When Jason moved on to open a new restaurant in Newport called Red O, she quickly jumped on board after her 9 years with Mastro’s. “It has certainly been more challenging to start a new brand and new restaurant but has been such a great experience and is so rewarding. I will continue to grow our business and most importantly focus on making guests for life, ” says Hillari.
Mona Shah: Owner, Moxxe Public Relations
Named as one of Orange County’s most influential people to watch in 2016 by the Orange County Register, Mona Shah has created a reputable name for herself by working with some of the area’s top restaurants, including The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar, Driftwood Kitchen, ARC, Provenance, SOL Cocina, Haven Gastropub, Portola Coffee Lab, and Sushi Roku Newport Beach. Her PR experience comes a wide range of positions, from being the PR Director for the Miss Universe Organization and coordinating initiatives in sub-Saharan Africa with the Harvard Aids Institute, to working on the 84th/86th/87th Annual Academy Awards and the 72nd/73rd Annual Golden Globes, and coordinating publicity for high-profile individuals such as President Bill Clinton and former First Lady Laura W. Bush. She is always excited to share her knowledge of PR with students, and has spoken at the Art Institute of California in Orange County, the Student Communication Association at C.S.U. Long Beach, Orange Coast College, C.S.U. Fullerton and Dominguez Hills, and Chapman University.
Devyn Bisson: Storyteller and Lifeguard
Devyn is immensely passionate about storytelling, the creative process, and following her heart. She considers herself a lifeguard first, and a storyteller second. Both, to her, are truly a part of what it takes to save lives. Whether it’s physically aiding those in immediate danger or inspiring people to courageously live their most authentic life, she sees no difference. According to Devyn, “Whoever tells the story defines the culture.” She is the director of the feature length documentary, The Wave I Ride, and is currently in pre-production for her next film Ama, and proud Junior Lifeguard Instructor for the Huntington Beach City Junior Lifeguard Program.
Hannah Reed: Owner, Hannah Reed Swimwear
Young 17 year old entrepreneur, Hannah Reed of San Clemente High School, started designing and sewing custom bikini bottoms out of her home at age 15, marketing them on Instagram and having collaboration sales out of her garage. Hannah Reed Swimwear sales doubled her Sophomore year and quadrupled her Junior year after designing new bikini tops and adding one-pieces to her collection. She created her own website promoting custom made swimwear to accommodate all requests and is now selling nationwide and promoting her business on a global scale. Hannah recently landed an internship with O’Neill, learning from the lead designer and management team of women’s swimwear and apparel.
Tamra Judge: Real Housewife of Orange County, Owner of CUT Fitness
You’ve seen Tamra on the Real Housewives of Orange County for 9 years, but there is much more to this gal than just Reality Star. As Co-Owner of CUT Fitness, Tamra strives to promote healthy living through exercise and clean eating. Owning her own business allows her to share her passion for fitness and connect with friends and fans all across Orange County. As a mother of four and “Tam-ma” to a beautiful granddaughter, Tamra knows how hard it is for women to prioritize their health and wellness when life gets in the way. Tamra works hard to push the boundaries of her comfort zone and act as an example to the amazing women in her life. She dedicated her recent victory in the Muscle Mania Fitness Competition to her incredibly supportive fans and to women all across the world who aim to become stronger in all aspects of life. It is her hope that she can continue to inspire and be inspired by the incredible women that have supported her throughout her RHOC career.
Nicole Boice: CEO of Global Genes
Nicole Boice founded Global Genes , the leading rare disease patient advocacy organization in the world in 2008, with the goal of helping families affected by rare disease connect with tools, resources, and much needed support, helping eliminate the challenges of rare disease. Since it’s inception, Global Genes has impacted hundreds of thousands of patients worldwide. Nicole has worked with world-class organizations in media, pharmaceutical and high tech sectors – Schering Plough, CMP Media, United Business Media, and Burrill & Company. A Graduate of the University of California San Diego, Nicole is a proud wife, mother of two children
Alicia Whitney: Restaurateur
Alicia Whitney is an accomplished entrepreneur who has combined her passion for life, love of wine and food, professional experience and success to transform Huntington Beach into a culinary destination. Whitney developed a versatile skill set and gained exposure to various food and beverage industries working in casino marketing and venue development in Las Vegas. She transferred that knowledge to create an instant success with her own business when she opened her first Huntington Beach restaurant, SeaLegs Wine Bar, in 2012. Whitney continues to captivate locals and visitors alike with new restaurant concepts, opening SeaLegs Wine Bar in Los Angeles International Airport in 2015 and SeaSalt Woodfire Grill and new dining destinations along Bolsa Chica State Beach in 2016. For her success, Alicia was named Entrepreneur of the Year in 2015 by the Huntington Beach Chamber of Commerce.
Shannon Barisoff: Owner, Twice the Style
Clothes have been important to Shannon Barisoff all her life. She started selling them out of her garage and on the side of the road over 45 years ago, eventually opening up her first real storefront about 40 years ago. She has owned the consignment store Twice The Style in Costa Mesa for almost 20 now and her employees who have been with her for so long are truly a part of her family! Family, good friends, good food and a good bottle of wine are some of her favorite priorities! She and her employees love what they do, truly believing Twice The Style makes a difference with the services they provide their customers.
Chef Niki Starr Weyler: Executive Chef, Mesa Lounge
Niki Starr is a true Southern Californian, born and raised in Orange County. Planning on a career in nursing, Niki realized her passion for the culinary world and decided to switch career paths and go to culinary school. From there, Chef Niki began an externship at French 75 in Laguna Beach, California. After a year, she took a position at Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdale’s in South Coast Plaza, meeting her mentor chef Amar Santana. Niki continued to work with Amar as he opened his successful restaurant in Laguna Beach, Broadway, when she got her break and was commissioned as the executive chef of Mesa Lounge in Costa Mesa. Today, she is reinventing modern California cuisine. She prefers simple dishes, evoking strong feelings with attention to detail and utilizing seasonal ingredients.
Lauren Scaccia and Geneva Mendosa: Franchise Owners, TONI&GUY Hairdressing Salon, Fashion Island, Newport Beach
Lauren Scaccia and Geneva Mendosa have been best friends for 15 years. When deciding to open a salon, they chose to franchise with TONI&GUY as they truly believe in the brand standard and have seen this success in hairdressing internationally. Lauren and Geneva, both hairdressers behind the chair, coach their team of over 40 hairdressers to be the best they can be. They emphasize a continuing education to offer top skills in the industry, and encourage thorough customer service, because they believe a successful clientele is all about how our industry helps one feel and look their best.
Kirsten Prosser: Founder of On Que Style
Raised in Tarm, Denmark, Kirsten worked as a fashion designer in Marbella, Spain, for over seven years. She moved to Newport Beach, CA, where she became a leading runway specialist for Donna Karan New York. In early 2009, Kirsten’s dream was realized when she opened the On Que Style boutique to re-market her clients high-end designer clothing. Kirsten is now known as Orange County’s favorite fashion stylist and the brains and beauty behind the On Que Style vision. Kirsten is also an accomplished artist who enjoys painting unique style inspired images embellished with crystals and gems.
Monica Pommier: Owner of Pure Barre Newport Beach, Irvine, Huntington Beach and Mission Viejo
Born and raised in sunny Southern California, Monica enjoys staying active outdoors year round. Her passion for exercise and energetic, positive, young attitude will help any female achieve an enriching Pure Barre body. Monica finds the greatest pleasure in helping women of all ages obtain a more toned, lean and strong body through Pure Barre. She loves watching the confidence that exudes from these women after seeing the results so quickly and how much stronger they feel. Monica opened the first barre studio in Orange County and lead the way for the barre movement. Being the 5th Pure Barre studio owner nationwide in 2009. Monica currently owns 4 locations Pure Barre Newport Beach, Irvine, Huntington Beach and Mission Viejo. She is currently focusing on continuing to build her business to help women all over Orange County achieve their fitness goals.
Dawn McKnight: Founder of Blue Eyed Girl Stores
As a single mother of two with an entrepreneurial spirit, Dawn started her own women’s boutique business in 2004. Twelve years later, now married, Dawn has grown her business to five successful store locations in Orange County and a thriving online store. Dawn’s personal objective with Blue Eyed Girl is to enable women to find and explore their own personal style with the high quality, designer brands. Dawn creates for a warm, friendly, comfortable atmosphere where women can feel at ease and open about exploring and trying different fashion options. “Finding and creating your own personal style is key to being who you are and comfortable in your own skin”, Dawn says. She also strives to be a mentor to her staff, encouraging them to learn as much about running a business as possible and hopes that she can inspire young women to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.
Tami Dickason: Managing Partner at London Coin Galleries of Newport
Tami Dickason opened London Coin Galleries of Newport in 1990 as the second Southern California Gallery of the Corporation. Since then LCGON has earned a reputation in the community for fair and honest trading of rare coins and precious metals. Additionally, LCGON inventories a diverse selection of antiquities, fossils, minerals and ethnographic art to fit every budget; making it the go to gift shopping place for the person who has everything. LCGON is in the midst of renovating its gallery (we are open for business in the suite next door), which will have its unveiling event sometime later this year.